Avid Media Composer is one of the oldest and most full-bodied non-linear editors in the film and television industry. Launched as an offline editing solution for motion pictures, Avid has evolved over the decades and is now found in many post-production houses.
With its robust and powerful media management tools, Avid has solutions for team editing, project sharing, and even remote projects.
However, sometimes organizing and archiving can be a tedious process. Avid may have powerful media tools, but there is another straightforward—and free—application that can make the process quicker and easier.
What is MDV?
Primarily it is made for media management at the file system level. Unlike the AVID’s Media tool, MDV uses direct file and path access and allows you to organize and archive your media inside the complex, not always simply-named structure of AVID’s media folders.
MDV is a very simple but powerful tool that any Avid editor should have in their arsenal. It is compatible with all most connected media drives, including local drives, USB sticks, network drives, NEXIS Storage systems, and SAN networks.
It takes seconds to download and open, requires minimal resources or bandwidth, and is compatible with most Avid Software (Media Composer, NewsCutter, Express, and Symphony).
Using MDV to Manage Media
The user interface is easy to use. The first step is to identify the Avid databases you wish to manage. You do this by selecting “Search for Databases” in the top right of the application. This will scan Avid’s .pmr and database files found on your computer or network.
After a quick scan, you will see a list of drives that include media files. Many times you’ll see one drive listed multiple times. This means that the media is organized into various MXF folders on the drive. Select the drives you wish to manage by checking (or unchecking) the box next to each. Click on the large “Scan” button when you are ready to proceed.
You will then see the lower left window filled with a list of Avid projects on your selected drive. This window will tell you the name of the project and how much disk storage it occupies.
Selecting one of the project names will populate the window to the right with all of the individual media files associated with that project. MDV will show you the name of the media files as well as the clip name in your bin. Many camera formats will use long number and letter sequences for Media (such as 14649VO4EEBV.MXF), but most editors will rename clips in their projects (such as “Camera 2 – Take 4). MVD allows you to sort the list by file name, the name used in the Avid project bin, size, compression settings, file path, type of file, creation date, project name, and source.
You can take actions of the files in the list by selecting the clips you wish to manage and then referring to the action list key above. Highlighting a clip and pressing “F5” will copy the media file and prompt you to select a folder to send the duplicate clip to. Pressing “F6” will move the file and relocate it to a different drive (perhaps you are archiving a project). Please note that when you perform that function, MVD will display the text “Not Exist” in place of the file size. This indicates the file is no longer in that location and will refresh when you do a fresh scan of the database. Selecting “F8” will delete the clip permanently from the drive.
MDV makes it easy to sort and look for the file types you are looking for, whether to make a copy, archive a project, or clean off drive space. You can select one or multiple projects at a time, and it will show all associated media files together.
Please note that if you move, delete, or alter a lot of media using MDV, the next time you launch your Avid software, Avid will likely take a moment to rescan and update its databases before you can work with the project.
Best Editing Practices to Make Management Easier
When working with a tight deadline, it’s often easy to fall into lazy editing habits to get the job done quickly. We’ve all been there, but the time we save organization is time we burn when cleaning out footage later. There are a few tips you employ to keep your project organized and easy to manage when it’s finished.
Name files consistently. When you ingest raw files into the application, use a consistent naming convention so it’s easy to find those clips later, both in your project bins and in MDV.
Back up essential elements. It’s always a good idea to keep at least one or two copies of your footage on a different drive while you’re working on a project. Gone are the days we could pop the tape back in and recapture. A digital file that gets corrupt without a backup is gone forever. Make it a habit to backup footage to another drive or use MDV to make a copy to an archive location.
Pay attention to file paths. When importing new files into Avid from multiple sources, pay attention to where Avid is creating the MXF and media files. Your project may be on your D: Drive, but ensure imported media isn’t created to a different drive. That will make project sharing and archiving that much more difficult later.
Pre-computes. The sneaky storage hog. Whenever you add a filter to a clip, modify a file, or render anything on your timeline, Avid creates a new media clip for that specific rendered effect. If you render a project multiple times, you may make hundreds or more pre-compute files that can quickly consume precious drive space.
How often have you removed source footage from the drive but noticed that you are still surprisingly low on storage? There is a good chance that pre-computes may be the culprit. You can use MDV to sort these rendered clips and free up considerable storage. Just be aware that any pre-computes you delete may need to be rendered again if you need to continue working with the project.
Avid has some practical built-in media handling, but if you are looking for a lightweight, easy-to-use application to make data management easier, MDV may be the tool you’re looking for. Download the program for free at djfio.com/mdv/.